The Town Council and Board of County Commissioners will discuss potential regulations of Electric bicycles on pathways and streets at Monday’s 3 pm meeting.
Electric bicycles (e-bikes) are bicycles that have been equipped with a rechargeable battery and electric motor that provide power assistance to the rider. E-bikes that meet the federal Consumer Product Safety Act definition of a “low-speed electric bicycle” are bicycles that have fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts that provides a maximum assisted speed of 20mph when powered solely by the motor.
There has been a significant increase locally in e-bike usage and interest over the last 12-24 months. However, there is still much confusion among the public, pathway users, and local bike shops about whether e-bikes are legal on pathways and bike lanes. In response to this, the Pathways Task Force has discussed the issue numerous times over the last year and has recommended that all e-bikes meeting the federal definition of “low-speed electric bicycle” be allowed for use on Town of Jackson and Teton County pathways.
Pathways staff presented information on e-bikes and the recommendation from the Taskforce to the Town Council and Board of County Commissioners at separate workshops in October 2017. Town and County legal staff and law enforcement officials have been involved throughout the process and have researched the relevant state statutes and regulatory avenues that affect how the Town and County can manage e-bike usage.
All e-bikes being considered for use on local pathways meet the federal definition of “low-speed electric bicycles.” Currently, there is no definition in the Wyoming statutes specific to modern e-bikes, so e-bikes fall under the definition for “mopeds” per Article 31-5-102(xxi). Mopeds are required to have a mirror mounted to the left-side (31-5-954[a]) and a horn that is audible from 200 feet away (31-5-952[a]), but are exempt from motor vehicle registration requirements (31-2-201[a]). Moped operators must have a legal driver’s license.
This definition allows mopeds, and therefore e-bikes, to be used on streets and highways in the Town of Jackson and Teton County (so long as they have a mirror and horn, and the operator has a driver’s license).
For regulating e-bike use on pathways, the Town has the authority to do this via ordinance. Current ordinances prohibit the use of motor vehicles on Town pathways and bike lanes, so if the Town wishes to permit e-bike use on pathways this would require amending existing ordinances in Section 10 (including 10.04.205) and potentially adopting a new ordinance. A change to the definition of “pathway” in the land development regulations would also be required. The current definition specifies “non-motorized travel” so this would need to be amended to include low-speed electric bicycles.
Teton County can regulate e-bike usage on pathways through resolution and the definition of “pathway” in the land development regulations. All other motorized vehicles (including electric bikes that exceed the speed or wattage limits of the federal low-speed electric bicycle definition) would continue to be prohibited from Town and County pathways.
The meeting will be held at the County Administration Building on Willow.